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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are there any definitive signs that says robbing is going on? See my scenario below to understand why I'm asking.

I'm feeding 3 new hives from nucs with Syrup+HBH. I know this can trigger robbing, not disputing that. So I'm on the lookout for that danger.

A couple of days ago, I saw a lot of activity at the entrance, and what I THOUGHT might have been fighting between guard bees and robbers.

Today I went to look and there are a lot of orienting flights going on, but no fighting. There are no dead bees on the ground either.

Could what I saw two days ago be simply the Women's UFC team members out on the porch practicing? Does robbing ebb and flow, with some times no robbing occurring and others where it is?

No wrassling today, no dead bees, only obvious orientation flights.

SO, my question is this - is there anything DEFINITIVE that I can look to that would indicate I have a robbing situation?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Michael.

I notice you didn't mention dead bees. Should I expect at least a few?

I will close up one of the hives this evening. If I close them ALL up I may close up the robbers too and then the test would be inconclusive.

Thanks again
Rick
 

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>I notice you didn't mention dead bees. Should I expect at least a few?

The problem with that is that a booming hive with a lot of activity probably has some dead bees all the time. Yes in a serious robbing situation, they may kill ALL the bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update:

I've concluded that I have a robbing situation. However they don't seem to have bothered the hive bees other than being an annoyance and drinking their feed. No destroyed comb, no dead bees, etc. I think they're heading straight for the syrup+HBH.

Now that I know that, I am taking very deliberate steps to not have the robbers START attacking the hive bees (which I guess WOULD happen if I just stopped providing the robbers the syrup).

I tacked some screen over the entrance yesterday to reduce the entrance. I didn't have a formal robber screen ready. There's room for 1-3 bees to enter at a time. Lots of robbers congregated on the front of the screen. Because there wasn't a barrier, I think many may have ended up inside. But I feel certain it slowed them down a lot.

I re-read MB's ideas on his site at http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm. Today I bought some Vaporub and applied some under the bottom of the landing board and over the entrance. 5 minutes later I saw much fewer robbers congregating there. I consider this a short-term emergency remedy.

I plan to make some true robbing screens tonight out of scraps of wood and more screen. I'll put them on after dark.

My question is this. I am pretty much 100% certain that the HBH is what is drawing the robbers. If I keep feeding with syrup+HBH, I may have stopped 90% of the robbing but I would expect the robbers to keep trying. If I am not correct in this and the consensus is that the real robbing screen with an upper entrance will stop the robbing please let me know.

My trick of last resort is to close them up one night, move them the 12 miles to the house, stop feeding them with HBH and just feed them with sugar syrup. Reminder - these are nucs I'm trying to get built up before winter. I'm not trying to get honey. So at the current time they'd be considered a "weak hive". I just want to give them the best shot at survival.

Should I even feed right now? Cotton is coming up here and I haven't seen it blooming yet. The wet spring held everyone back from planting I think.

Anyone have further ideas?

Thanks
Rick
 

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>I've concluded that I have a robbing situation. However they don't seem to have bothered the hive bees other than being an annoyance and drinking their feed. No destroyed comb, no dead bees, etc. I think they're heading straight for the syrup+HBH.

They only thing more likely to set off robbing than feeding syrup is feeding honey or syrup with HBH. I would get rid of (or feed it to a strong hive) the syrup with the HBH.

>Now that I know that, I am taking very deliberate steps to not have the robbers START attacking the hive bees (which I guess WOULD happen if I just stopped providing the robbers the syrup).

Provide the robbers with syrup in THEIR hive...

> tacked some screen over the entrance yesterday to reduce the entrance. I didn't have a formal robber screen ready. There's room for 1-3 bees to enter at a time. Lots of robbers congregated on the front of the screen. Because there wasn't a barrier, I think many may have ended up inside. But I feel certain it slowed them down a lot.

The screen is good. Reduce it down to not more then 3/8" by 3/8"...

>I re-read MB's ideas on his site at http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm. Today I bought some Vaporub and applied some under the bottom of the landing board and over the entrance. 5 minutes later I saw much fewer robbers congregating there. I consider this a short-term emergency remedy.

It will confuse them and confusion is your friend.

>plan to make some true robbing screens tonight out of scraps of wood and more screen. I'll put them on after dark.

Good plan.

>My question is this. I am pretty much 100% certain that the HBH is what is drawing the robbers.

I 100% sure it is contributing, but syrup can attract robbers anyway... and ants...

> If I keep feeding with syrup+HBH, I may have stopped 90% of the robbing but I would expect the robbers to keep trying.

You have to stop 100% of the robbing...

>If I am not correct in this and the consensus is that the real robbing screen with an upper entrance will stop the robbing please let me know.

You will need to get the HBH out of the hive that is being robbed or the robbers will keep homing in on the smell.

>My trick of last resort is to close them up one night, move them the 12 miles to the house, stop feeding them with HBH and just feed them with sugar syrup.

Steal honey from the strong hives and give it to the nucs. Do NOT feed a weak hive when there is a strong hive around. Feed the strong hive and steal stores from them for the weak hives...

>Reminder - these are nucs I'm trying to get built up before winter. I'm not trying to get honey. So at the current time they'd be considered a "weak hive". I just want to give them the best shot at survival.

Inducing robbing is giving them almost 100% chance of not making it another day...

>Should I even feed right now?

No. Never feed a hive that is being robbed if you can help it. If you HAVE to, (they are out of stores and you can't steal honey from a strong hive) then give them dry sugar. Dry sugar is the least likely food to attract robbers. (but will still attract ants).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Feeder: It is a jar inside a deep over the inner cover.

It is a month-old medium nuc, and I put the frames in a medium, with one medium above it for the queen to expand into. I was feeding to give them enough to draw comb with. And they could cap the syrup for the winter. I planned to over-winter in 3 mediums. I just now opened up the brood chamber with a foundationless frame for them to draw out. Up until two days ago, the frames were in the same orientation that they were in the nuc. They also seemed to be backfilling so I wanted them to know they had more space.

I've had another thought, to create a HBH bait station. Put a cup of HBH 100 yards away (preferably upwind), with a screen cover over it where it would evaporate but not let any bees to get to it. Sorry if this is a stupid idea, but my thought was to create a scent source strong enough to draw the robbers away while I get things under control. It would also attract MY bees so it would only be VERY temporary. Michael is this stupid or counterproductive as a short-term measure to get robbers to forget the hives?

I've come to the conclusion after learning from you here that I should have NEVER started feeding them. I was concerned because the nucs were so late in coming (June) and the spring flow seemed to be over. I'm seeing some orange pollen coming in now, and the nucs storing some pollen, so maybe I was all wrong.

Rick
 

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I inadvertantly set off a robbing situation. Just re-read this thread and went out and corrected the issue.

I picked up 3 hives this spring, a split, a may package and a June package and was feeding all three through Boardman feeders. Yesterday I opened them up, everything looked great, but split was out of feed. I got the bright idea to start swapping them all to water in their feeder and stop feeding them. Today, may package was inundated with bees. All around, landing board covered, the noise was impressive. After I watched for a minute I decided to do a little research here and confirm robbing. Swapped the water on split for syrup from may package. Quickly quieted down. I'm going to finish off what I have in the feeders and stop. We still have acres of clover and the milkweed is coming into bloom so I doubt they need it now anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Robbing screens (used the brushy mountain screen design) went on last night after dark. We'll see what the future holds. Took the feed off too. Planning to open each up tomorrow morning to see what's been happening.

If there is no shredded comb, I will REALLY be scratching my head. On the other hand, I don't think they've been building up enough to account for the feed each one had been sucking down. The numbers just don't add up unless you consider robbing.

But there was enough symptoms outside the hive to indicate robbing so we're playing it safe, I guess. If it wasn't robbing, no harm in putting the screens on, other than maybe a traffic jam at the small entrance.
 

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i like mb's advice to feed a frame of honey from another hive if you have to feed. i believe bees are healthier overall if they diet on honey vs. syrup. i would like to feed a few of my colonies right now to encourage them to draw a few more frames of foundation but i don't. a colony strong enough to defend a feeder probably doesn't need one if the beekeeper has left enough stores. times of drought on the other hand can lead to yard wide starvation and a yard feeder positioned far enough away might be the way to go. i haven't run into a situation yet when a frame of capped honey wasn't available from another hive. a frame lasts a pretty long time if they are not brooding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
No dead bees, no shredded comb, went through every hive. I thought I saw new bees orienting but also some older ones which would be robbers. Now I have absolutely zero confidence it was robbing. I saw some waggle dancing on the screen in front yesterday after going through them all. If those were robbers they wouldn't be doing that I don't think???

They have enough stores for a bit. I'll open them back up and go through them all again in about 2 weeks to see if they're holding their own stores-wise (cotton seems about ready to bloom). If so, I'll probably take the screens off and keep an eye on them.

Maybe i panicked?
 
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